I'm glad I finished this one. I almost gave up several times. Extremely slow start and introduction to characters and plot.I have to say I feel a bit sad that I couldn't enjoy this as much as I'd hoped I could since Mead is one of my fave authors. Ever. In fact, this is the first book of hers I didn't get into much. But this just bored me the majority of the time, and I found myself feeling at times obligated to get it read. I couldn't feel a connection to the characters and that is a huge, crucial point with me. I have a feeling I'm going to be in the minority though of the low ratings. The first hundred pages are the worst. Probably the area where many readers I know may try and give up themselves. It's where I struggled the most and put it down several times, afraid that I wasn't going to pick it up again. This books presents such a wide mix and unusual terms without much explanation in the beginning. It feels weird. It gets confusing. And while often times I would have likely enjoyed this, I didn't quite get it here. There wasn't an immediate layout of the world or information provided right away. Just a slow gradual buildup, and you just have to be patient. I have a feeling a lot of unanswered questions will be a bit more cleared up in the next installment though. What I really liked and kept me continuing on with the read: I loved the premise. Mead's writing and pace is also spot on still throughout the book, and the last half of the story picks up enough to become quite an entertaining read after all. Enough to where I'll still likely buy the finished copy and see where the series goes from here. The world building is interesting, refreshing, and detailed (though as I said before, a bit confusing at times). There's a chance I may have just read this at the wrong time, because her writing is quite obviously there. That I noticed for sure. Either way, I still look forward to seeing where this series goes. There will be a huge audience to love this book because I can see the appeal, but I didn't quite love this one as much this time around from Mead.